Gaming could be a game changer for AMD

Gaming could be a game changer for AMD

Summary: With seven years of pent up demand for new games consoles, AMD is well placed to have the market stitched up for years to come.

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TOPICS: Processors
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The PC ship is sinking and the established rats are deserting it in droves. One company that has worked hard to diversify is #2 chipmaker AMD, and some are predicting that this groundwork will soon begin to pay off for investors.

While companies such as Intel have been pinning their hopes on mobile to keep the dollars rolling in, AMD has instead been focused on another sector – gaming.

The underdog chipmaker has managed to negotiated its silicon into all the major games consoles, including the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. It has also announced plans to support Android and Chrome OS in addition to Windows, as well and supplying the GPU power for Apple's upcoming Mac Pro, all in an attempt to break free of the stagnant PC market.

While there's little doubt that PC gaming is waning, console gaming is huge, and AMD is looking at cashing in on seven years of pent up demand for new consoles, and with the company powering all three of the top name consoles, it has the market stitched up for years to come.

And the numbers are good. Estimates from analysts are typically scattergun, but at the top end, 10 million console processor over 2014 could add 24 cents to AMD's earnings.

Dan Niles, CIO at AlphaOne Capital Partners, believes that AMD shares could hit $8 by 2015, when the game business driving more than 20% of the company's revenue.

Another silver lining for AMD is China's recent lifting of a 13-year ban on game console sales. While there are still some restrictions in place, this opens out a whole new territory for Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, and all sales means money rolling in for AMD.

But, as is usually the case, every silver lining comes with a cloud attached, and in AMD's case that cloud is debt, lots of it, with more than $1 billion of which coming due between 2015 and 2017.

The road to recovery is going to be a long one for AMD, but the company seems to be taking steps in the right direction.

Topic: Processors

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14 comments
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  • Optimized for Gaming

    AMD FOREVER ....
    TariqA6
  • Only if

    AMD has a chip to compete with Haswell, which currently it doesn't.
    EVHGameOvR
    • Haswell in serious gaming?

      Not so much.

      Intel could compete with mid-range GPU's at best.

      So AMD (for gaming) is still winning. But what is very important and not meantioned in the article is that AMD won Game DEVELOPERS hearts. Since they will work on AMD hardware for console titles, but also for ports. Taht is big win, if AMD capitalize it well (tools&middleware, special offers for gamers, etc.)
      przemoli
      • Exactly

        Exactly: different markets. Haswell is targeting mobile, while AMD is pinning its hopes on gaming consoles. There really isn't much intersection between the two.
        dsf3g
  • Consoles

    Having seen the specs of the the consoles, I am foregoing them for my I7 PC. I am using an AMD graphics card though.
    hayneiii
    • AMD already won with you then

      Let's look at this honestly though: an i7-4770 goes for over $300 just for the CPU alone, and only hardcore PC gamers will pay for high-end computers. The cost of an entire PS4 is only $100 more. Xbox One is $200 more. An entire gaming system is $500 or less, but you couldn't build the rest of your computer for only $200 more than an i7, and this is not what the mass gaming market is buying.

      Also, don't forget that Haswell is going to be one of the last processors that Intel makes in a socketed design. Future CPU's will be embedded, and you'll have to buy a motherboard and CPU from a component manufacturer. Don't bet on there being every X+Y configuration either - high end CPU's will only be found in high end motherboards. I would doubt very much that many companies will, for instance, put a high-end i7 into a mini-ITX board too.
      Joe_Raby
      • The i7 is not a fair comparison to the consoles for cost comparisons

        CPUs are not usually the most important component for PC gaming, it's the GPU. In fact, a few anandtech benchmarks have shown that after a certain threshold (around an i3 IB) upgrading the CPU provides little benefit unless you are running a dual card system. It's the GPU that matters the most.

        Which is why the consoles are being produced with weaksauce Jaguar chips. Jaguars are AMD's mobile processor line, not its more powerful desktop line. Although we won't know for sure, I imagine that an i3 IB will outperform the Jaguar console CPUs unless the game is heavily optimized for using the 8 (really 5 for the Xbox one) cores available. For those, an i5 may be a better comparison with its 4 cores/4 threads. The i3 sells for around $100 and the i5 for around $225, not $300.

        Where the i7 really shines are tasks that are very CPU dependent like CPU-based video encoding, CAD, etc. But if you're trying to make a price comparison between PCs vs. Consoles, to be fair you need cut down the CPU price to a c-note. Arguably, a person could build a rig with off-the-shelf parts that would outperform the Xbox One for around $500, which is less than the Xbox One + Xbox Live costs for 2 years.
        nategator
    • The Gaming PC is Changing

      AMD won the big two game consoles because they can build a better gaming chip, cheaper. There is no doubt that the new consoles will be far more powerful than the current consoles. There is no doubt that the new consoles will be more powerful for gaming than the PC most people have. Current PC gamers may think, "The consoles cannot be more powerful than my modern game PC," and they may be right, at first.

      But the AMD game APU's have something current PC's do not, and that is a "unified address space," where both the CPU and GPU use the same address for the same object. In current PC's, the video address space is separate, inside the video card. In a current PC, when the CPU works on a GPU object, it must be copied from GPU to CPU memory, AND BACK, through an external bus.

      In contrast, the AMD game APU's allow the CPU and GPU to work on the same object WITHOUT MOVING IT, and that is a major efficiency improvement. The current PC does not and can not have unified addressing, and no external video card, no matter how powerful, can change that. Of course, no PC has 8GB of GDDR5 main memory anyway.

      These AMD APU's represent a gaming PC architecture which is just not possible on current PC's. Further, this will be the core of game implementation, and designs may have to change dramatically when porting to the more limited PC.

      GPU specs alone do not account for platform differences in actual use. Comparing benchmarks of old code designed for the old PC cannot expose architectural advances.
      RandSec
  • Try telling that to Steam

    "While there's little doubt that PC gaming is waning"

    Try telling that to all of the gamers on Steam, the designers of Star Citizen, all of the players of Blizzard products, and I could go on.

    As long as there's PCs, there will be PC gamers.
    CobraA1
    • True

      ...but WoW player counts are dropping off every day. Mists of Pandaria was a dud.

      Also, why does Valve want to make a big stink about publishing on Windows, when it's just fine for them to pay the massive cost of entry for game consoles (not to mention that a lot of the ports are outsourced)? You can try to sugar coat it, but PC gaming IS waning.
      Joe_Raby
      • humm

        "Mists of Pandaria was a dud."

        Debatable. Probably not the best numbers they've had - but still better than any of the competition.

        "Also, why does Valve want to make a big stink about publishing on Windows, when it's just fine for them to pay the massive cost of entry for game consoles (not to mention that a lot of the ports are outsourced)?"

        They don't really see consoles as direct competition. People will have computers for a long time to come, so they're pretty secure there.

        They did, however, see the Windows store as direct competition to Steam, since it allows publishers to sell games to consumers on the same OS as Steam. Thankfully, Windows store was a horrible store on a horrible OS, so the first iteration was no threat to them. But Microsoft *is* in it for the long haul, so competition with Steam is practically inevitable.

        "You can try to sugar coat it, but PC gaming IS waning."

        Maybe, maybe not. Id' say that insisting you're right doesn't suffice as evidence. Big name publishers may only grudgingly support the PC, but indie developers are actually flourishing with Kickstarter and Steam's Greenlight. It's a great day to be an indie PC developer, and I'm having a lot of fun with indie games.
        CobraA1
  • Constantly amuses me...

    ... how non specialist gaming journos and posters have their heads up their butts re pc gaming. Read the stats, pc gaming outnumbers all combined consoles, its just that the pundits only go on retail store figures, With Steam, mmos, indie games and retail there are more pc gamers now than ever. AMD were clever with the console market, but Intel will continue releasing specialist chips for gamer mobos forever.
    btone-c5d11
  • Constantly amuses me...

    ... how non specialist gaming journos and posters have their heads up their butts re pc gaming. Read the stats, pc gaming outnumbers all combined consoles, its just that the pundits only go on retail store figures, With Steam, mmos, indie games and retail there are more pc gamers now than ever. AMD were clever with the console market, but Intel will continue releasing specialist chips for gamer mobos forever.
    btone-c5d11
    • very clever

      You have to realize all this is about strategy. AMD and Intel are competitors, though Intel is the bigger of the 2 right now, the future is bright for AMD. AMD owns the patents for x64 and Intel has to pay to use X64 in its products (as AMD has to do with x86 and Intel), but as we move forward and x86 becomes a thing of the past and 32 bit is no longer viable, AMD will have the upper hand. AMD is positioned to be the giant of the future, the new consoles are just a test bed for the future of PC's where CPU and GPU share memory drastically improving performance. Now imagine a 5 GHz APU that has a HD 8990 built in that shares 8-32GB of DDR5, the future is bright for AMD, I'm not too sure about Intel, I guess they will make a good server CPU for year to come.
      sigmapsicharlie